I am not a passionate reader of opinion polls but in this case I have made an exception. Is not only because this particular poll has provided very valuable information for me as an architect but also because I always like to analyse factors like cost, location, size, sources to find a property etc that do influence the other Europeans citizens when they decide to build or buy a new house here in Spain.
A representative study named “Looking for and finding properties in Europe” by RE/MAX Europe, conducted in 16 European countries, reveals that the Internet is clearly the medium of choice in the search for real estate.
Sources to locate a property.
Two-thirds of Europeans prefer to use general real estate portals and more than 50 percent use real estate agent’s websites. Asking friends or relatives is another option: 44 percent, especially women and citizens of Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey, ask for support from their acquaintances. General real estate portals also come in first place regarding the success rate: Most people questioned found a new property on general real estate portals, followed by friends and relatives and real estate agent’s websites. The greatest challenge in the property search – regardless of which channel – is the price: properties were often too expensive for them, say 43 percent of Europeans.
Costs, location and size are most relevant factors.
The costs are the most relevant criteria for Europeans, particularly in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Greece before taking a look at a flat or a house, and to a slightly lesser degree in Turkey and Italy. The location of a property is important for 82 percent of Europeans, followed by the size of the property (77 percent). Other information provided such as photos are relevant for younger people in particular, while older people are more interested in data regarding energy efficiency or the year of construction of the property.
“The price is obviously the crucial criteria for most Europeans,” but in that survey also shows that priorities can be quite different, depending on the country and the age of those looking for a new flat or house.”
First impressions: Condition of sanitary facilities plays crucial role
What really counts when it’s time for an initial viewing is – quite surprisingly – the condition of the bathroom(s) and WC(s). Nearly half of Europeans say that they pay the “highest” amount of attention to sanitary facilities, followed by the general need for renovation and the smell of a property. Women and older people in particular have higher standards when looking at a property for the first time: regardless of whether it comes to the kitchen, the surroundings or the soundproofing (thickness of walls), they have considerably higher demands.
Another important issue in the search for real estate is the neighbourhood. Asked for those facilities that would be most welcomed, Europeans present a family-friendly picture: the highest-ranking wishes are a children’s playground and a kindergarten/or school nearby (both 19 percent approval). Nevertheless there are quite diverging opinions in some countries: only 9 percent of Germans rank a children’s playground as important, whereas 48 percent of Turks do. Other considerations that make a neighbourhood worth living in are shopping centres and restaurants with an outdoor garden area. At the other end of the spectrum, things that would bother people most in their locality include an airport or a flight path: half of Europeans would not want a property close to either of these.
Surveyed about the challenges during their last property search, Europeans say that the price of flats and houses was often too high for them, especially in Portugal, Greece and the Czech Republic. Other challenges included a negative price-performance ratio, finding a suitable location and descriptions of the properties not reflecting the reality.
Opinion polls: Believe them or not, they are here to stay.
I think that whether one belief or not on the way that opinion polls are conducted, I do think that in statistics when more than one thousand people are interviewed the probability are that there is may be some truth in their findings.
In any case it isn't often that we get to know valuable information that professionals like yours truly can use when seating in front of a blank sheet of paper to start a new design for a home or when asked by a property developers for the best places to invest or for the type of properties that they should build.